Thanksgiving

I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving and enjoyed a shortened work week. Even though I’m in New Zealand and there is a lack of Americans I still celebrated. There are about 20 long term residents at my hostel so I asked the majority of them if they wanted to participate in a Thanksgiving potluck. Everyone said yes. I then assigned them a dish to make, otherwise Thanksgiving would been pizza, pasta, curry and rice, which is not Thanksgiving at all!

I took on making stuffing, chicken (there’s no Turkey here), pumpkin pie and whipped cream and cranberry sauce. Thursday morning I got up early to go to the food store before I had to clean. After I finished cleaning, I started cooking and pretty much didn’t stop for the next 6 hours.

Stuffing: I made the stuffing from scratch. Luckily there was a stale baguette for free in the hostel which was perfect. I sauteed onions, sausage and celery with fresh rosemary, dried thyme and dried sage. The sage made the whole kitchen smell like Thanksgiving, like home. It was perfect. I also diced some apples and added craisins to the mixture, plus some chicken stock and it was finished. Just needed to be baked. I’ve never made stuffing before but I got rave reviews about it!

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For the chicken, I marinated it in some lemon juice and olive oil and added a ton of rosemary, sage and thyme, then baked it in the oven. It too was delicious.
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Pumpkin Pie: They don’t have canned pumpkin here so I had to roast a whole pumpkin, which luckily they had in the food store. I have no idea what kind of pumpkin it was or if it was good for baking, it was simply labeled “Pumpkin”. Lack of choice sometimes has its benefits. Either I used that or there would be no pie. On Wednesday I cut the pumpkin in half and roasted it cut side down for about an hour. (I also roasted the seeds. I don’t think anyone in the hostel had eaten pumpkin seeds before but they loved them). I scooped out the flesh and then refrigerated it overnight. On Thursday I bought premade pastry for the crust, then made the filing from the roasted pumpkin, sugar, eggs and evaporated milk. Plus a boatload of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. There was leftover pastry from the crust so I cut out some decorative leaves and baked them. After an hour it was finished and it looked delectable. Seriously. I was highly impressed with myself. Plus, it was freaking delicious. Everyone loved it (it helped that only like 3 people there had ever had pumpkin pie before).
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I had so much left over pumpkin that I also made a batch of pumpkin muffins and pumpkin bread.
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I should also mention that all the baking I’ve been doing has been without proper measuring cups or spoons. I have 1 plastic cup that has 50mL graduations on it, but most of the graduations have been rubbed off so you can’t actually read anything written on it. That is the only measuring implement I have.
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Everything has come out okay so far. Maybe I’m just awesome.

Also, I have no mixer. So this whipped cream was whipped from fresh cream by hand with a wire whisk. It took freaking forever. Apparently its harder to whip cream when its warm and it was probably close to 75-80F in the kitchen, maybe warmer. Regardless, it eventually got there.

Cranberry Sauce: They don’t sell fresh or frozen cranberries, just dried, which would not work for a sauce. Luckily they do sell jarred cranberry sauce so I picked up some Ocean Spray Whole Cranberry Sauce and it was actually pretty delicious. Not too sweet and had large pieces of cranberry in it. I was satisfied.

The 1 other American, Ashlie, made macaroni and cheese, which has never made an appearance at my family’s Thanksgiving but is a staple at hers, so she went to town.

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The rest of the dinner included roasted chicken, orange glazed carrots, roasted sweet potatoes, steamed green vegetables, salad, mashed potatoes and fresh baked dinner rolls.
Plus there was my chicken and stuffing. For dessert we had pumpkin pie, muffins and bread and apple crisp.
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All together we had 9 different dishes for dinner, 3 desserts and 21 people.
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Everything was incredible. Seriously. Every dish was delicious. I was so impressed with everyone and so happy. Ashlie and I were excited that Thanksgiving, International Style was a success.

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